By Bassey Udo
The commencement of oil drilling operations in Kolmani fields will push Nigeria toward her twin targets of 40 billion barrels of national oil reserve by 2025 and the attainment of net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva has said.
Sylva spoke on Tuesday at the ground-breaking event to kick-start oil drilling operations from the Kolmani Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPLs) 809 and 810.
Kolmani integrated oil field development project located in Alkaleri local government area of Bauchi State bordering Gombe is being operated under the joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Sterling Global Oil, and New Nigeria Development Commission (NNDC) owned by the 19 States of Northern Nigeria.
Reputed to hold about one billion barrels of crude oil reserve, the Minister said the development of oil field began in 2019 after the NNPC announced the encounter of oil in ‘commercial quantities’ at the Kolmani River Well II following years of geological investigations.
The flag-off of drilling operations from the field who performed by President Muhammadu Buhari who described the event as another significant milestone in the country’s quest to achieve energy security and access for Nigeria.
Sylva said the commencement of oil drilling operations from Kolmani fields would significantly boost Nigeria’s oil reserves and continuous energy sufficiency.
”From North to South, East to West, our country is replete with rich hydrocarbon resources, which the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Petroleum Resources is committed to finding and developing to end energy poverty, create shared prosperity and enthrone sustainable development.
“The development of the field will grow Nigeria’s reserves from the current 37 billion barrels of national oil reserves to 40 billion barrels by 2025,” the Minister said.
Despite the challenges the NNPC was confronted with in its search for crude in the Upper Benue Trough and Gongola Basin, the Minister said the commencement of oil drilling for hydrocarbons from the field was a reward for the Buhari administration’s vision to drive infrastructure and industrial development.
The vision to achieve prosperity and make life more meaningful for all Nigerians, Sylva said, motivated the sustained quest for the reform of the petroleum sector, which
culminated in the passage and signing into law of the Petroleum Industry Act in 2021 by the President.
He said the PIA 2021 gave the regulatory support and framework for the NNPC to achieve the mandate by providing for the Frontier Exploration Fund, which enabled it to utilize and deploy world-class cutting-edge technologies to de-risk exploration in the frontier basins.
The kick-off of oil drilling in Kolmani Fields, which is coming on the heels of the recently concluded Conference of Parties (COP27) in Egypt, where discussions on the energy transition and climate change were held, underlined the commitment by President Buhari during COP26 in Scotland towards Nigeria’s aspiration to attain net-zero carbon emissions by 2060.
The President’s commitment, Sylva said, has profound implications for the exploitation of the country’s natural resources, particularly for measures by the country to realise that commitment.
(These measures, the Minister noted, included the signing of the Global Methane Pledge as well as the recent Guidelines for Management of Fugitive Methane and Greenhouse Gases Emissions developed by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) which was celebrated globally at COP27.
“The key implication of these measures is that we need to think about sustainability even as we seek to increase capital for government spending through prudent and optimal use of our natural resources and other forms of domestic resource utilization.
“Given that most players within the international financial ecosystem are progressively moving away from funding fossil fuel development, financing for demand, supply, and infrastructure projects will need to incorporate decarbonization into project plans to attract funding,” Sylva said.
Despite the quest for energy transition, Sylva said the opportunity for investment and reaping fantastic returns remained undiminished and are continually available to the discerning investor.
The new drilling campaign, the Minister said was a testimony that the hydrocarbons sector still held the promise of returns on investment, highlighting the role hydrocarbons would continue to play in the global energy mix.
He said drilling for hydrocarbons from such locations as the Upper Benue Trough/Gongola Basin, was crucial to Nigeria’s survival along with the measures being taken to realise the energy transition target.
Despite the recognition that reduction in fossil fuel revenue, without sufficient time and support to manage macroeconomic risks and the structural transformation required to build a diversified, sustainable and resilient economy would have catastrophic social knock-on effects for millions of Nigerians, Sylva said this cannot be allowed to happen.
The risks from the country’s current challenges of energy poverty, lack of access to clean
cooking fuel, insecurity and unemployment were pervasive across the country, he said the
value proposition to all stakeholders was also high.
“The reward of getting it right is so huge that we have no option, but to stay the course and see it through. This is why the collaboration and partnership between the NNPC Limited and its partners in the latest oil drilling campaign is not only welcomed but must also be expanded
to other basins, to give the country a fighting chance to address the myriad of issues that confront the country,” he said